Obesity makes fighting leukemia, a devastating disease on its own, even harder for pediatric patients. After chemotherapy, obese children with leukemia relapse 50% more often than their lean counterparts. Dr. Steven Mittelman wants to find out precisely why this happens and develop targeted interventions to save lives.
Dr. Mittelman observes the interactions of fat cells and leukemia cells to pinpoint multiple ways obesity and leukemia might interact in patients. As a physician-scientist, he also treats patients. Driven to heal as many children as possible, he leverages his clinical perspective to inform his mechanistic studies and translates his research findings into interventions that improve patient outcomes.
Dr. Xingxing Kong studies adipose tissue biology to find obesity interventions that could help pediatric patients achieve long-term health. Her work reveals genetic factors controlling fat tissue behavior, which influences energy homeostasis, metabolic processes, and the development of obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled since 1970, now affecting about 1 in every 5 children. In addition to taking a toll on overall health and wellness, obesity can lead to hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Kong hopes to improve outcomes in these complications by pinpointing, and eventually influencing, the deep cellular processes that promote obesity.